4/05/2010

ACI Easter Message on South Carolina and its defense of Episcopal and Anglican ways.

The Anglican Communion Institute, whose working writer - theologians are The Rev’d Professor Christopher Seitz, The Very Rev’d Dr Philip W. Turner III and The Rev’d Dr. Ephraim Radner, has come to the defense of the Diocese of South Carolina and its bishop. The defense took the form of an Easter Day message.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has decided to take on the Presiding Bishop, her Chancellor and the whole Provincial effort to enforce the intent of the Canons of The Episcopal Church as they apply to the holding of property by whatever church entity in trust for The Episcopal Church.  Bishop Lawrence has relied on the notion that dioceses have something he calls, "sovereignty." He gets this idea from Bishop Alexander Charles Garrett, a past bishop of Dallas.  Bishop Garret stated, "Every Diocese is an independent and sovereign state, held in the unity of the Catholic Church by its Episcopate, according to the rule of St. Cyprian….The Diocese thus becomes the ecclesiastical unit, a full and perfect integer sufficient of itself for all purposes of growth and development."

Out of this quaint idea the ACI puts forward the following propositions:
  1. The Presiding Bishop’s office is regulated by the constitution and canons and exists historically for the good order of the church. It is not a metropolitical office. The title ‘presiding Bishop’ was chosen with care and inheres with the notion of good order when the wider church gathers. It is not an office with independent political authority.
  2. The existence of diocesan canons in The Episcopal Church is a departure from the model typically followed in the polity of other provinces of the Anglican Communion. The existence of these canons goes hand in hand with the history and sovereignty of the diocese in The Episcopal Church as the basic ecclesial unit of catholic Anglicanism.
  3. That no mandate exists that can be enforced by canon law for dioceses to pay assessments beyond the good operating of their own affairs is likewise evidence of the catholic and missionary integrity of the dioceses of this church.
  4. Diocesan Chancellors exist to assist the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese in maintaining the legal good operating of the Diocese and the undertaking of its internal affairs.
  5. General Convention resolutions as such have no canonical force. They represent the mind of those gathered and are not legislative in character.
  6. As a province, The Episcopal Church has no single authoritative voice, but exists with a dispersed character at the provincial level, involving individual diocesan Bishops, diocesan conventions, a triennial General Convention, House of Bishops meetings, and the office of Presiding Bishop.
These are assertions in support of Bishop Lawrence's concern to uphold what he believes to be the true character of TEC as "an association of autonomous and independent dioceses."

There are several problems with these six propositions. Here are a few:

On item 1: The whole business of what makes the Presiding Bishop like other heads of the national or regional churches that constitute the Anglican Communion is a difficult one.  The Canons say that the Presiding Bishop is, "the Chief Pastor and Primate of the Church." It is true there is no mention of the Presiding Bishop being metropolitan or Archbishop. But the Presiding Bishop is the Primate as far as such things as The Primate's meetings go. But I like the spirit of this one, until the last line: "it is not an office with independent political authority."

Nuts.  Of course it is.  The Presiding Bishop has the power of appointment, preside at the consecrations of bishops and at the time of the required visitation to dioceses, has occasion to preach, celebrate the Eucharist, and consulting with the bishop and perhaps lay and clergy leaders. The Presiding Bishop speaks on behalf of the Church.  Political authority consists to a large part in the exercise of the bully pulpit and in the context of actual pulpits, the Presiding Bishop exercises profoundly important political authority.  Is it "independent"? Who knows. But it is canonical and it is there.

On item 2:

This is fluff. A seeking after wind.

On item 3:

  ACI states, "That no mandate exists that can be enforced by canon law for dioceses to pay assessments beyond the good operating of their own affairs is likewise evidence of the catholic and missionary integrity of the dioceses of this church."  This is just rot.

Here is what the Constitution and Canons of TEC says about that.

Canon I.1, Sec. 8.  The General Convention shall adopt, at each regular meeting, a budget to provide for the contingent expenses of the General Convention, the stipend of the Presiding Bishop together
with the necessary expenses of that office, the necessary expenses of the President of the House of Deputies including the staff and Advisory Council required to assist in the performance of the duties and matters related to the President's office, and the applicable Church Pension Fund assessments. To defray the expense of this budget, an assessment shall be levied upon the Dioceses of the Church in accordance with a formula which the Convention shall adopt as part of this Expense Budget. It shall be the duty of each Diocesan Convention to forward to the Treasurer of the General Convention annually, on the first Monday of January, the amount of the assessment levied upon that Diocese."

The alert reader will note that this is canon law, not simply Convention resolution. Note the phrases "shall adopt", "assessment", "levied", and "shall adopt."  This is a mandate of canon requiring assessment for things well beyond the "the good operating of their own affairs."  The mandate of canon itself is the basis for this assessment, and every Diocese in acceding to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.  So much for the absolute sovereignty of the diocese.

On item 4.

Yes. Diocesan Chancellors do whatever is asked of them as legal advisers to the Diocese. One might hope they have something to do with advising the Diocese about its duties and rights in terms of the Constitution and Canons of TEC as well, since those govern the basis on which both bishops and clergy exercise their offices in the Church.

On item 5.

This is an amazing bit of foolishness. I will quote it again.

"General Convention resolutions as such have no canonical force. They represent the mind of those gathered and are not legislative in character."

The ACI folk need to wake up and smell the coffee.  Some General Convention resolutions precisely have canonical force, namely those that make changes in the canons. When they are appropriately passed they become canon.  All General Convention resolutions are legislative in character, if by "legislative" one means they are passed by a legislature  (in this case synodical legislature) and they legislate - that is give sanctioned guidance / direction / mandate / order  to some body within TEC.  For example: General Convention legislates that there will be an office at the Church Center for this or that ministry and provides budgetary funding for it.  It is true that some General Convention legislation is advisory or commendatory only.

On Item 6: TEC does have a "single authoritative voice" on some issues. For example, the Presiding Bishop is called upon by Canon to "Speak God's words to the Church and to the world, as the representative of this Church and its episcopate in its corporate capacity."  On most issues that authority is derived from the consent of the governed by way of the decisions of General Convention and the explicit authority granted by Canon for final determination of particular matters. When the Presiding Bishop declares a bishop has been deposed it is on canonical grounds, but the PB speaks the authoritative sentence of deposition.  The PB does not have unbridled authority, thank God. 

So what is this about? Why in the world would the ACI publish such a message?

Well, the Bishop of South Carolina is making the case for the so-called Communion Partners that the level of autonomy of dioceses in TEC is such that individual dioceses can make their own treaty with the Anglican Communion and can ignore whatever decision is made by General Convention about the value of the Anglican Covenant.  With that argument also comes the proposition that dioceses have status independent of any union to the General Convention.  Never mind that it is that union that makes possible the rules under which the bishops of these dioceses were elected and have license. Never mind that it is union with General Convention that made the formation of the dioceses complete. Dioceses, rather than state assemblies, are a product of the Church, not the other way around. 

As to the argument that those dioceses formed from the state assemblies were free and independent and gathered in to union by mutual accord, fine.  We might well notice, however, that when the dioceses entered into the union with others to form General Convention and when they came to be called dioceses, and when the Canons specified ascent to the Constitution and Canons as an assumed and / or specified requirement of being in this union, and when there was no objection to doing so, the matter was closed. 

However, Bishop Lawrence seems to think otherwise. Unchallenged (by better voices than mine) that leads to all sorts of possibilities. 

Among them might be: 

That Bishop Lawrence, gracious in his way of dealing with parishes that leave TEC for other lands, is patiently waiting for his parishes to walk away from TEC and the Diocese of South Carolina, and when most of those in the diocese do, he will walk too, finding a ready made field of congregations  - the ones who left - ready to receive him. 

Or, that one fine day, the Diocese of South Carolina, having separated itself from all things TEC as per its resolution last year, will decide the time is ripe to pick up and move over to the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop Lawrence can claim that he never intended to leave, but look... all his parishes bolted and in good Christian conscience he believed they ought to be about to do so.  If TEC were to then say, as it has in the past, that no, a diocese cannot by itself leave, it would be left with almost nothing - all or most of the churches having left with their goods, and cattle, etc. By that time shutting the barn door would be a pointless exercise.

Well, life is full of possibilities. One of them is that Bishop Lawrence has every intention of being a bishop in TEC, no intention of going anywhere, and will remain as bishop in TEC.

Who knows? What I do know is that Bishop Lawrence needs better arguments than the ones put forth by ACI to support this sovereignty business. And while he is at it, he needs better legal counsel, for one of these days someone is going to confront him with the matter of letting the assets meant for the use of The Episcopal Church in that place (namely the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina) simply drift away.

On the first round I did not think Bishop Lawrence should have gotten consents. On the second I did. Oddly, I like the man. He writes well and engagingly and he is a bishop of this church.  But I believe he has led us in a convoluted way into a thicket where we will none of us emerge unscathed.

On this business he is wrong, the ACI is wrong and we will have to be watchful and alert.



63 comments:

  1. Mark, I think there is more to be said about the authority of the Presiding Bishop. Title I, Canon 3 describes the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, "comprehending all members of the Church." (Article I) It specifies the Executive Council as "its Board of Directors." (Article II) It establishes that "The Presiding
    Bishop of the Church shall be the President of the Society." (Article III) Title I, Canon 4 then states that shall have charge of the coordination, development, and implementation of the ministry and mission of the Church. (Sec. 1.a)

    So, any action taken as the President of Executive Council would carry the authority of General Convention, wouldn't it? That would seem to me something the ACI argument overlooks.

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  2. On point 1. This is a falsehood. The PB *must be invited* by the diocese to consecrate. That is why the PB is not a metropolitan. If you wish to see metropolitical authority, spend just an afternoon looking at the form it takes in provinces where it exists.
    On point 3. If this is so, why can a diocese which does not pay what is requested be free to do so? Answer: because the assessment's failure to be commanded and enforced is precisely a sign that no hierachy exists. Is this actually in doubt? What diocese of the very many that have not paid assessments have been corrected for that? Answer: none.
    On point 5. GenConv can pass resolutions until the cows come home. Unless it changes the constitution or canons--this is not a resolve made at this or that convention--then what it says is as the essay states.
    On point 6. Now we see the fluff. Much of what you say simply clarifies what the essay declares.
    Assertion and fact are not the same thing.
    Please try again to explain how what was written is in factual error.
    signed--Concerned about changing TEC into a new hierarchy.

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  3. Why is he / they wrong? Why are YOU never wrong? This is all your opinion (as it is their opinion). Someone is wrong - and for all your arguments and defense it may well be you - and regardless of how eloquent you may sound is your arguments, you surely realize that you will have to answer for every careless word you have spoken - Matthew 12:36-37 just as Bishop Lawrence will too. You may THINK your right - but that is no guarantee that you are, intellectually or morally.

    Has everyone forgotten St Paul's words:

    The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? - 1 Corinthians 6:7-8

    Father John - an episcopal priest

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  4. A diocese is a unit of a larger church. Since there is no international "Anglican Church," the idea of a diocese being a completely independent and self-governing unit makes no sense.

    Many of the diocesean C&Cs I have read contain articles to comply with state law. I was amazed to learn that such compliance won't allow some dioceses to require confirmation/reception into TEC to become a voting member of a parish, because state law won't allow such action! I suppose we can thank a fear of central authority in the 18th century for some of the confusion. We are indeed a national church, and the only American entity recognized as in full membership within the Anglican Communion.

    The zig-zagging lines of authority can be confusing unless you make the time to learn them. When I returned to TEC in my 40s, I made a point of doing that. I was raised in a diocese that covers two "states," (Maryland and the District of Columbia), and it's a bit surprising there are no legal conflicts.

    Congregationalists, please. Your parish is part of a greater community of local Episcopalians who live together in worship and service. Local parishes are part of a diocese, and artificial lines sometimes make us part of two dioceses. But we are all Episcopalians - if you don't think that is true, did you know what you signed up for when you added your name to the church roles?

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  5. Concerned:

    According to Title III, Canon 11, section 6: Upon receipt of the consents and assurance of the acceptance of the election by the Bishop-elect, the Presiding Bishop shall take order for the ordination of the Bishop-elect either by the Presiding Bishop or the President of the House of Bishops of the Province of which the Diocese for which the Bishop was elected is part...

    Now, perhaps "take order" is an anachronistic phrase, but it doesn't imply an invitation from the electing diocese, but the responsibility and decision of the Presiding Bishop. So, she "took order" for the ordination of Bishop Lawrence, and, being sensitive to feelings in South Carolina at the time, delegated the responsibility for his ordination.

    As to point 5: as a Deputy, I can assure you that changes to Constitution and Canons occur as resolutions of General Convention. Granted, changes to the Constitution take two Conventions; but changes to Canons take only one. And as Mark describes, different resolutions have different purposes and different results; but the only differences in phraseology are those necessary to describe the different purposes.

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  6. Concerned, you asked why TEC does not enforce its own canon agains dioceses that do not pay their assesment. I believe the answer is the same as would be given to the question why dioceses do not enforce similar canons against their congregations. We're trying to live by the advice Father John points to--such action is counter productive and would typically end up in court. Suing your brother or sister divides the family; we are supposed to build up the Body. Sometimes those who don't pay, simply can't pay and this calls the rest of us to step up and help them by carrying an additional load. Unfortunately this loving consideration of the other allows those who don't mean the diocese or TEC well to actually do the Body harm. Clearly South Carolina means to punish the rest of us by shurking it's rightful duty and withdrawing form participation in the Body. Thereby weakening the whole Body...to make a point.
    It always amazes me that it's always one or two congregations in a diocese of 50 or a 100, one or 4 dioceses in a Church of 110 dioceses, that choose to act this way...deliberately weakening the Body of Christ. Nearly alone and so sure of themselves. But then Judas was just one of 12, one of hundreds who followed Jesus. So sure he was doing the right thing...until later when he realized what he had done.
    Tom Downs

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  7. Mark, once again I must assert that you are a far better Christian than I am. I went and read the remarks that Bishop Lawrence made to the convention in South Carolina. At the time I was also studying the gospel accounts of the last Earthly days of Christ as my Lenten meditation. There was much good in the address but there was also much of the Pharisee and Sadducee as well. Father Lawrence treads on some very thin ice in his role and judge and coadjutor with Christ in his pronouncements against the Episcopal Church. We, in TEC, may be right with the Spirit or wrong in our understandings but the rhetoric employed by Bishop Lawrence calls a harsher judgement upon him ultimately and I am sure he feels very apostolic in his convictions.

    Altogether I was heavy of heart and saddened greatly to read ugly words mixed in with the beauty of gospel truths and obvious mistruths and outright lies about those he opposes. He is a sinner, as am I. May God have mercy on us both and all who seek His face.

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  8. Sir, why don't we stop spending so much on lawyers and have some real live and let live spirit....let those who want to leave do so and those who are left will be much happier. All the stress is coming from both sides fighting over money and property.....both sides. Lawyers getting rich, TEC poorer in various ways.....

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  9. Marshall--she didn't demur to SC and 'the feelings' of SC. By canon, she must be invited. She wasn't and so she could not serve in this role. The canons state that if this happens, the chief consecrator is the provincial bishop at the time...it happened to be Eastern Carolina. 'Take order' is a clerical/admin term and it is appropriate to what the PB is to do. The PB is a clerk for the church as a whole.
    A resolution is not a canon. Resolutions have no binding force.
    Tom--anyone familiar with genuinely hierarchical churches will know that assessments that are mandated are accompanied by penalties for non-payment. That is what makes them required. They are not in this form in TEC and have never been and the point is, this reveals a particular polity. It has nothing to do with generosity of spirit or avoidance of courts. You could not take a diocese to court for not paying assessments, and that is what the topic of this statement was about: diocesan autonomy.
    One only has to visit practically any other Province of Anglicanism to see how TEC is different. Diocesan canons are almost non-existent. This ACI statement merely reminds us all how different TEC is and what that means for efforts at alteration now being generated in the name of a 'national church' -- autonomy accompanied by hierarchy in order to enforce it. This is not the TEC of our history or our canons/constitution. Concerned.

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  10. At the risk of getting into the Johnny One Note groove - not, FWIW, something that bothers ACI - I doubt I'm alone in interest in the emoluments that "Three Men & a Web Site" (remember those days?) rooted out of Don Armstrong's Grace Church trough. Still a "Caesar's Wife" thing, Dr Seitz - nice to know what, if any, egg is on the faces of those who so regularly condemn the "shortcomings" of others.

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  11. Michael Merriman6/4/10 10:48 AM

    Mark,

    It should be noted that Bishop Garrett's statement about diocesan sovereignty was in the context of the first convention of the newly admitted Diocese of Dallas. Up to that time it was the Missionary District of Northern Texas, and as such was under the direction of the National Board of Missions, and dependent on that Board for funding and direction. Bp. Garrett was simply stating the fact that the new Diocese was no longer subject to the Board.

    He and his Missionary District had requested the General Convention to admit them as a Diocese of the PECUSA, thereby recognizing that there was a body superior to their local body.

    Claiming the words of a single bishop at one Diocesan Convention 110 years ago, words never quoted for such purpose until now (not even in the Diocese of Dallas until last Fall), is specious and verges on playing fast and loose with the truth.

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  12. Michael--The action of the ertswhile missionary diocese was in the form of association, in legal terms. It was nothing to do with 'superiority' -- this is again special pleading and its own form of speciousness. Dallas was also not fighting a 'hierarchy' when it claimed it could do and be what God needed -- that would again be anachronistic. There was then no 'national church' to 'wrest free' from, just as there was no 'superior' body called General Convention. An act of association is simply that. These can also be withdrawn. That is the legal point at issue. If you want a hierarchical church, you will get something other than an association. You will get clear supremacy language. You get this in the RCC, the PCA, and even to a degree in UMC (all have books of discipline and courts). I might have thought that liberals were the last group interested in hierarchies and metropolitical assertion. Concerned.

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  13. As I read the Canons relating to diocesan payments, I see a distinction between the assessment for General Convention expense that Mark has cited in I.1.8 and the payments that support the program budget (I.4.6(c)).

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  14. "And while he is at it, he needs better legal counsel, for one of these days someone is going to confront him with the matter of letting the assets meant for the use of The Episcopal Church in that place (namely the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina) simply drift away."
    The state law in SC, via its Supreme Court, has ruled against such a direction or duty of care. The 'national church' did not file alongside All Saint's in the writ of petition to the SCOTUS until the last minute, and now All Saint's has settled. I might have thought that the 'national church' not pursuing the writ initially or further, after All Saint's settled, could equally be charged with negligence, following your logic. Isn't this what comes of trying to extrude oneself into a diocese when you are really not in a position to do so -- hence the withdrawal of petition when the legal prospects were so difficult. To blame the Supreme Court of SC ruling on +ML seems a bit farfetched. Concerned.

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  15. It would be helpful if the anonymous asserter that the PB must be invited would identify the canon that requires such an invitation. I have searched the canons and can find no such canon.

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  16. Anonymous
    If you would like to see a church without central authority, come north to Canada.

    Diocesan canons tend to be considerably longer and more detailed than the national canons (and the largest piece of the national canons deals with the pension plans).

    The Primate of Canada has absolutely zero metropolitical authority. He plays no role in the election or consecration of bishops (though that will probably change under new canons on the Bishop Ordinary for the Armed Forces and the National Aboriginal Bishop to be discussed at General Synod in June). His only role in discipline is, together with the provincial metropolitans, to appoint members of the Supreme Court. His only real power is to preside over General Synod and meetings of the House of Bishops.

    Unlike in TEC, there is no canonical provision for the national church to assess dioceses for its operating costs. Contributions by dioceses are merely a suggested percentage of revenues, and vary widely.

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  17. FWIW I wish no one had ever been allowed to get away with shirking their assessments, whether it was a parish refusing to pay a diocesan assessment or a diocese refusing to pay a national assessment. All the policy of clemency did was to encourage a handful of extremists to become ever more disconnected, isolated, and extreme. As moderates and liberals left or were driven out of these parishes, the few remaining members would have been unable to pay the assessments, even if they had so wished. This provided an additional incentive for extremism; members had to keep on finding something to object to in order to justify continuing to withhold money. These parishes should have been reduced to the status of missions, and might have been, except that they were allowed to continue with their shenanigans out of the goodness of certain liberal hearts at HQ. The result: TEC has nurtured an angry, isolated, vocal minority consumed with the need to destroy the organization that has nurtured them.

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  18. Bishops, Trustees, Standing Committees, Boards of Trustees of every diocese of the Episcopal Church, acting in accordance with diocesan Constitutions and Canons, make decisions all the time about the purchase or sale of real property, the investment of assets, the expenditure of reserve funds, whether to defend or settle claims at law, etc.

    If the Presiding Bishop or some other party of the Episcopal Church believe that one or another of these bodies are in doing so acting in a manner that violates the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, then appropriate canonical action under Title IV should be initiated against the ecclesiastical authority responsible for them. They can be disciplined, deposed, etc., by due process.

    I can see no authority in the Constitution and Canons for the Presiding Bishop to determine on her own initiative that some diocese has failed in its canonical duty and then, without any review or due process, simply to proceed to act as a superior authority over those matters.

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  19. PS--Am I correct that Mark Harris is on the Executive Council of this church and he calls point 2 'fluff'? Point 2 indicates that TEC is unusual for having diocesan canons and that this is significant. Can the member of the Executive Council calling this point 'fluff' tell us how many Provinces in the Anglican Communion have diocesan canons? The point is obvious. If a Province has only national canons, it is constituted differently in history and character than TEC is. Again, this is a dismissal from a member of Executive Council and it intimates, no announces, that the point is empty of importance. How many other Provinces have diocesan canons, then? Concerned.

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  20. dr.primrose6/4/10 8:33 PM

    I hate to be cynical about these things, but I really do have to wonder whether the ACI would have analyzed things this way if Lawrence were PB and was concerned about, say, the Diocese of Newark.

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  21. Concerned..."there was then no 'national church' to 'wrest free' from, just as there was no 'superior' body called General Convention." Of course there was a General Convention, and for that matter a provincial body, The Episcopal Church. As to it being "superior" or not is another matter.

    As to liberals being concerned about hierarchies and metropolitical assertion, of course we are. But we are also concerned that the vows made by clergy are bound by Constitution and Canon for the purpose of supporting The Episcopal Church and developing its vocation to mission.

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  22. Dear Concerned about changing TEC into a new hierarchy.

    Where do you see that language about the PB consecrating the bishop of a diocese?

    Payment of assessment (as opposed to fair share of programatic funding) has been widely followed.

    Resolutions have force for those bodies to whom they are directed. Resolutions that change the canons apply to everyone. Resolutions that recommend to this or that group ar ere recommendations. But many resolutions are referred to staff, agencies and boards of TEC and there is a requirement that actions in reference to those be reported back to the next General Convention.

    BTW, I don't particularly appreciate being called a lair.

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  23. Mark,

    Liars district from their lies by calling others liars. That's what they're trying to do here. Note that the lies this person concerned with all but truth has been caught in have been challenged and unanswered - deflection by calling you a liar has been his response.

    It means you have them on the ropes and they know you are too much of a Christian to respond in the same way they behave. It's a sort of complement, really.

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  24. Mark Harris--here is the relevant c/c paragraphs which explain why the PB was not the chief consecrator in SC, and will not be unless invited. I hope this explains why your statements are false.

    The point of the ACI piece was to contrast the role of the PB with metropolitical authority as exercised elsewhere in anglicanism, or with hierarchical denominational models.

    Canon III.11.6 is as follows:

    Upon receipt of the consents and assurance of the acceptance of the election by the Bishop-elect, the Presiding Bishop shall take order for the ordination of the Bishop-elect either by the Presiding
    Bishop or the President of the House of Bishops of the Province of
    which the Diocese for which the Bishop was elected is part, and two
    other Bishops of this Church, or by any three Bishops to whom the
    Presiding Bishop may communicate the testimonials.

    There is nothing here to suggest that acting as chief consecrator is at the PBs election, and in practice he/she does not go where he/she is not invited. This is also supported by the requirement in the constitution (II.3) that no bishop may act in the territory of another diocese without consent from the Ecclesiastical Authority.

    Sec. 3. A Bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof, or unless authorized by the House of Bishops, or by the Presiding Bishop by its direction, to act temporarily in case of need within any territory not yet organized
    into Dioceses of this Church.

    Hence, the canonically proper non-invitation by SC of the PB as chief consecrator. I was there. All was in order, and the testimonials signed. The PB sent a letter, and that was all that was in her role to do, and it was read aloud (I suppose canonically that was ultra vires, as nothing would require such a public reading).

    Everything else called 'fluff' or dismissed by you is accurate.

    1. Resolutions are not binding; a resolution is not a canon unless the effort is made to have it so (cf resolutions regarding same-sex innovations);
    2. assessments are not as in hierarchical churches, that is, mandated with penalties for failure to contribute; the assessment quotas are not followed by quite a few dioceses; SC, CFL, TN, Dallas follow diocesan approved quotas, and a good number of dioceses do not pay what is asked/recommended. But just one not doing so would establish the point made in the original essay. It shows that the diocese is not subordinate to a system that must be followed in respect of assessment.

    3. diocesan canons are an anomaly in anglican provinces; Canada has them; I am unaware of other of the 38 total that do; Canada has a different system altogether than TEC and the AB is constrained by metropolitans who can insist that his role be as intended: good order and admin.

    None of this is fluff. If you choose your words with care, and read carefully what is written, the discussion will not require words like 'falsehood' or 'fluff.'

    Concerned.

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  25. "General Convention resolutions as such have no canonical force. They represent the mind of those gathered and are not legislative in character."

    Fine. Allow me to make a parallel substitution:
    "Lambeth Conference resolutions as such have no canonical force. They represent the mind of those gathered and are not legislative in character."

    Would the ACI and +Lawrence agree? I'm not holding my breath . . .

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  26. Apart from the obvious difference between a General Convention of a church of about 2M and the Lambeth Conference, an Instrument of the entire Communion, 40 times the size of TEC, your point is valid. And this difference makes all the difference. Because the resolutions of Lambeth Conference are so widely representative of the Communion at large, as against the local resolutions of a small episcopal body, they are for obvious reasons more weighty and more able to be referred to as relevant. The other way to state the issue would be, resolutions that represent what a local church of 2M believe do not have the same significance for the good order of Anglican Christianity as resolutions representing what the vast majority of anglicans believe. In addition, the burden of proof of what a local church asserts through resolutions must be measured against what Christians have always held to be the case in respect of sexual conduct as the OT and NT clearly state this, and as the tradition has always heard and taught. We cannot call this a contest in which the group that is 40 times larger wins. That is poll-ism. What the minority view must acknowledge is that it breaks with the entire history of the church's common thought and practice. Concerned.

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  27. Concerned clearly misunderstands the constitutional rule cited II.3): the limitation on episcopal acts only applies to "the Diocese in which elected" -- this has nothing to do with the PB, who is "elected" for the whole church. The PB no more need ask permission to carry out her canonical responsibility to take order for a consecration (I.2.4.a.4) and preside thereat if she so chooses. She is also charged, in clause 6 of that canon, with visiting every Diocese of the church to exercise her pastoral and episcopal office -- no "permission" or "invitation" is needed to carry out what canon law mandates.

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  28. Apart from the obvious difference between a General Convention of a church of about 2M and the Lambeth Conference, an Instrument of the entire Communion, 40 times the size of TEC, your point is valid. And this difference makes all the difference.

    The theology of the size queen?

    Were there more than twelve on the Sanhedrin? There are more Muslims than Christians, as I understand. How many individual bacteria are there? Maybe we should check with all the other planets before deciding oxygen makes a healthy environment.

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  29. Would Tobias Haller explain why the PB was not the chief consecrator in SC and why she will not be in any diocese that does not invite her? Why assessments are not mandatory? Why there are diocesan canons? Why the use of renunciation canons and such things not written for this purpose, so as to avoid a HOB vote? Why all of these do not indicate a diocesan sovereignty the PB is seeking to circumvent, but cannot entirely due to the history and character of this church? And why would Tobias Haller want the PB to feign metropolitical authority? Have liberals fallen in love with centralisation and 'hierarchy' because they want a job done? Concerned.

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  30. Brunson--now the anglican communion in its total numerical expression as Anglican Christianity is the Sanhedrin. And when lots were drawn and Matthias chosen, they went with the single lot that liked the other guy. And when the apostles concured over Peter's baptism and laid down the prohibitions of Lev 17-18 on the gentile converts, they should have decided in favor of those jews not there that gentile conversion was wrong. And when Christian tradition has held that sexual expression outside marriage is against God's intention, uniformly and without exception, it has been like the Sanhedrin. Have you ever bothered to think about the implications of that for what it means to speak of the church at all? Is the church always something like the five with special visions, as over against the vast communion? Or is this gnosticism in postmodern dress? Concerned.

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  31. Mark Harris

    When Bishop Garrett made his remarks there was no 'national church.' There was a General Convention to associate with, and the Bishop did that. His remarks indicate that the sovereignty of the diocese was untouched and that for him that meant: sufficiency to extend the Gospel and a responsibility to do so. The 'Provincial Body' you speak of would have been understood by Garrett and his fellow Bishops as themselves, the dioceses, whose sole central agency was the DFMS. The PB at the time was a diocesan, whose sole purpose (as in the Scottish Episcopal Church) was to preside when the HOB met and to undertake minimal administrative roles. The idea of an elected PB without a diocese looked at the time so anomalous that the convocation of american churches in Europe was given to him! (and thereupon a suffragen was appointed to do the chores associated with those 7 or so churches, mostly chaplaincies). To speak of some 'national church' at the time of Garrett is misleading. The average episcopalian of the day, if asked where the church headquarters was, would have responded by referring to the diocesan house where the Bishop did his business. The idea of centralisation was linked to churches wanting to ape corporate models, in the early 20th century. Some did that with gusto (the ALC and the LCA; the Methodist and Presbyterian churches; the Southern Baptist Church. But the Episcopal Church had an office of Bishop different than these bodies, and so the way it developed was different. One Bishop in the fifties told a colleague that he was developing a church school curriculum, and the fellow Bishop said he was too, and the idea of a Church Teaching series was born. That is what PECUSA understood by 'centralisation' -- ad hoc arrangements with a sole purpose: mission and teaching. Now we have a PB pretending to be a metropolitan, descending on cathedrals in dioceses as if she were an archbishop; wearing metropolitical apparal; setting up legal counsel in dioceses (SC), or endeavouring to; describing herself as a Primate and giving assurances to Primatial colleagues that she then says are not in her gift, because the 'majority' ruled this or that way; acting as if her personal Chancellor is a Chancellor for the whole TEC; and on it goes.
    And liberals like this insinuation of herself into high office, because it comports with the outcomes they desire. What a far, far cry from the days of Bishop Garrett and the character and identity of the anglican way in the US. Now we have a 'denomination' and a 'national church' -- though the hard work to undertake that, on analogy with genuine mainline denominations has not happened, because of the office of Bishop in anglicanism and because of the peculiar history of dioceses in the American experiment (with their own canons, methods of giving beyond their own borders, restrictions on the role of the PB -- a visitation once in nine years is hardly archepiscopal!-- and maintenance of their own standards when it comes to consecration rites -- hence the reference to the provincial bishop alternative -- something that would never occur in a genuine hierarchical church.
    BTW, the canadian example is instructive, as pointed out above. The Archbishop has very limited powers and is hedged about by the metropolitical authority of her fellow Bishops in that role.
    Why do liberals want a PB who is seeking to be a Metropolitan and a 'National Church' instead of a DFMS? Concerned.

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  32. And when Christian tradition has held that sexual expression outside marriage is against God's intention, uniformly and without exception, it has been like the Sanhedrin.

    No matter how many times you repeat this lie, Concerned, it will never be true.

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  33. Anonymous Concerned,
    Goodness, so many questions! Most are easily answered, however; though I don't think you'll care for the answers.

    The PB doesn't go into a diocese she knows is antagonistic or uncomfortable as a matter of courtesy, not law. The canons provide for alternatives, and those are acted upon. The notion that a diocese could refuse entry to the Presiding Bishop has no merit in law.

    The program assessment is not mandatory because General Convention has not made it so. It certainly could if it wished to. There is clearly nothing to stop the GC from making such mandatory demands in the area of finance, as it makes mandatory demands in so many other aspects of the church's life.

    Dioceses have canons because the Canons of the general church leave a relatively small number of decisions to the dioceses. This is in large part due to the absence of the establishment (such as in England) and the consequent variability of certain civil laws from state to state (for example, governing the powers of vestries as corporate bodies.) A number of such points of implementation are placed in the hands of the dioceses by the Canons of General Convention.

    As to the use or misuse of canons, I have written of this elsewhere, expressing my dissent from the interpretation being offered, while recognizing that this has been the standing interpretation for some time now. The canons in question need serious revision to deal with many changes in the life of the church, such as the very large number of retired bishops.

    None of this argues for a diocesan sovereignty, apart from a diocese's right to govern its inner workings in accord with its canons and the canons of the General Convention. The term is essentially meaningless in an ecclesiastical context. A diocese cannot even obtain a new bishop without the consent of the wider church. Imagine applying that rule to Governors or Senators!

    Finally, what I want is immaterial to the truth of the matter. Unlike Bishop Lawrence and some others, I have no agenda to press by engaging in a fantastic or novel interpretation of the polity of The Episcopal Church. As to "metropolitical authority" -- what do you imagine that consists of? As I see it, the PB exercises significant authority in the governance of our church, as a practical matter as Presiding Bishop, and as president of the DFMS and Chair of Executive Council.

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  34. Folks more interested in scoring points than in making them get dull real fast.

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  35. Yes. The Anglican Communion is the Sanhedrin. Worried more about form than righteousness.

    Cast it off. God wants you to be free.

    See how easy it is to express yourself clearly?

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  36. Sorry, but one more thing David brought to my attention.

    And when Christian tradition has held that sexual expression outside marriage is against God's intention, uniformly and without exception, it has been like the Sanhedrin.

    What people like you fail to realize - and perhaps it is outside your ability to do so - is that, while the ephemeral idealized "Church" you posit may or may not exist, and may or may not have "uniformly and without exception" - as you posit - said this, that, or some other thing, you're still left with one problem:

    It hasn't worked!

    Christ hasn't returned. The world is still rife with mendacity, greed, jealousy. No one's happier for pretending being gay is bad, no one is healthier for it. Religions still fight, and, demonstrably, there are places in the world in which Christianity's introduction has brought discord rather than unity, death rather than life. The great advances in society have been often from Christians, yes, but they almost invariably work outside of and despite Christianity.

    The Christianity you espouse has - put bluntly - failed abysmally. Horribly. It has failed to reflect Christ, in its general overall form which you so value.

    If TEC is doing "a new thing" PRAISE GOD! Because the "old thing" has missed the mark with disastrous effect.

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  37. Christopher (P.)9/4/10 9:05 AM

    Concerned--

    When KJS describes herself as a primate, it's because she is a primate by canon: I.4. And when she says she is limited in what she can say by what an elected body determines, it is also by canon: I.4.a. Now this may be good or bad, but it is not unauthorized innovation, as I perceive you implying.

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  38. Anonymous Concerned,

    You can continue to pretend that the concept of a national church is a modern invention, but history reveals you to be mistaken. Refer, among other things, to the Preface to the 1789 BCP, happily included in the present edition. You might also want to review the memoirs of William White, or Tiffany's late 19th-c history of the Protestant Episcopal Church (both available on Google Books) -- the latter in particular shows how important the concept of the "national church" was in the founding of the PECCSA, and the fact that this was ignored in the North, during and after the War Between the States.

    Obviously, "National Church" was never understood, in the US, in the sense of an established church; but rather of the Union of dioceses under a common form of government; and with a clearly territorial sense that any geographical area within the United States would appropriately be part of that national Union -- as well as there being a number of missionary dioceses outside the nation.

    On another of your assertions, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church includes this in its definition of "Metropolitan":

    The duties and rights of a metropolitan have varied in time and place. Chief among them are the summoning and presidency of provincial synods, the visitation of dioceses, the care of vacant sees, some share in the appointment and consecration of suburbans and some disciplinary powers over them.

    The Presiding Bishop holds and exercises all of these, in ways defined by the canons.

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  39. T Haller writes

    "The PB doesn't go into a diocese she knows is antagonistic or uncomfortable as a matter of courtesy, not law. The canons provide for alternatives, and those are acted upon. The notion that a diocese could refuse entry to the Presiding Bishop has no merit in law."

    And this, we are to believe, is consistent with her present activity vis-a-vis SC?

    "Dioceses have canons because the Canons of the general church leave a relatively small number of decisions to the dioceses."

    As a matter of historical fact, this is exactly backwards. No wonder we are in the imaginary land of hierarchy. You simply do not control the history of canons in this church. Read the standard commentary. Diocesan canons are full and complete and the national analogy is derivative. AND, because of this, and the lack of a 'supremacy clause', it is not even clear whose canons have authority over the other. That is why diocesan canons can be written which defend sovereignty should the national canons alter the constitution and change this church (as appears to be underway).

    As for consents, we now have such a centralisation effort that what is likely now to happen, in consequence, is a firefight. We see a form of that in SC. I would wager that in future, should a diocese like Dallas elect a bishop, who does not intend to withdraw, and because he does not support SSBs and says so, is not consented to, the diocese would proceed regardless and consecrate him with the (easily obtained) help of three Bishops, including Bishops from the CofE. You see, this is what it comes to when the centralisation and demand for SSBs moves into 'no prisoners' mode. It forces dioceses to assert the very things that made this church what it is.

    And then what happens? A so-called national church and so-called archbishop will endeavour to make up a diocese, appoint a provisional bishop, rally the 15% that agree with the 'no prisoners' approach, and sue. But what will happen in the Texas courts at that point? Will the Texas courts say that there is a supremacy clause and rule that TEC is, not a legal association, but a hierarchical church which can own via trust real property in Texas? That is the firefight that will ensue if consents are withheld for a bishop who does not intend to leave, but stay and defend the diocesan integrity, as consistent with the c/c of this church.

    Is the consent process hierarchical? No, it is a process set up to determine fitness for Gospel mission, teaching and ministry. If and when it becomes the enforcer of litmus tests for SSBs, we will have fully entered the Brave New World of a TEC now fully unrecognisable to the Anglican Way of the first episcopalians in this land.

    Concerned.

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  40. Tobias Haller, you state that “the limitation on episcopal acts only applies to ‘the Diocese in which elected’”. But that has it backwards. The diocese in which elected is where the limitation doesn’t apply (unless requested as provided). The limitation is on the exercise of the office of Bishop in a Diocese other than the one in which elected. Surely the act of consecrating another bishop is an exercise of the office of Bishop. And the Bishop who is at the time Presiding Bishop was “elected in a Diocese” no less than other bishops. You say she has the right to “preside thereat if she so chooses,” but where do you find these words? You don’t say. I think you also would need to address the relation of the Constitution and the canons, and why you would think a canonical provision could be interpreted in a way that runs counter to a constitutional prohibition.

    Fr. Harris, it is your blog, but I think you would do well to police offensive sexual slang applied to theology, such as used by Mr. Brunson.

    Locomotion

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  41. PS--T Haller. Isn't it also clear that the very existence of an alternative to the PB being chief consecrator is an immediate departure from metropolitical office? What if a diocese indicates that they do not want the PB to consecrate (as in SC)? By what 'right' and 'power' could she overrule that? If the Diocese and Standing Committee were to stand by their authority to monitor episcopal visitations, what would the PB then do? Fly in by helicopter and demand that her hands go first and that she preside? How would that happen? With something akin to Vatican Police?
    The entire point of the debate is that the canons were not written to enforce a kind of hierarchical authority of the PB vis-a-vis dioceses. They represent a charitable merger of respect. But what has happened is that we have come to a place, given the assertion of a novel agenda, that enforcement is now going to be mandatory. The canons were not designed for this kind of stand-off. They assume mutual submission, but we are in a contested state where that submission is itself centered on two different authorities: one that believes SSBs are a Gospel mandate (I guess by means of 'spiritual insight') and another that says they cannot be squared with the Gospel, scripture, and catholic practice. Any diocese that will not tow the line will simply argue that their own canons are a sign of their integrity in the Gospel. But if the innovation agenda is to move forward, it needs a way to override that. This was never envisaged in the development of the canons--national and diocesan-- and dioceses that do not want this agenda to move forward in their regions will claim that the innovations are now requiring changes in self-definition, and will resist this in the name of the Constitution and Canons of TEC...until, one assumes, Gen Conv takes the time to alter this self-definition via two conventions and the hard work of canonical re-definition. So for the meanwhile, we will just get skirmishing and differeing interpretations, because the canonical ordering logic never anticipated the kind of development we are now seeing. So dioceses like SC said/say, the PB is not welcome. It is incumbent, then, upon the PB to assess whether she indeed has such a right of visitation and consecration, via the canons. It appears the burden was deemed too great. There was no 'black letter law' answer because the situation is unprecedented and unanticipated by the canons themselves. Concerned.

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  42. Anonymous / Concerned:

    You've used up my patience and your time. I do not believe you are concerned, except to pound on the table again and again that your read of the canons, history and practice of the church regarding the role of the Presiding Bishop. If you are attempting to support the Communion Partner bishops and clergy, you are doing a very poor job of it. If not, I have no notion why you keep working away at this.

    At some point being concerned is not enough. Come out and tell us who you are, or alternatively tell us where we might blog your comments on your own blog.

    Either way, you have commented enough behind the anonymous name. Are you by chance also "locomotion?"

    If you don't have your own blog, perhaps now is a time to get one. Rant on there, please, not here.

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  43. Thank you, Mark, for calling Anonymous for the games. He/she does appear to believe his/her view is correct, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Though it seems to me straining at gnats while swallowing a camel or to. The notion that dioceses are somehow preeminent -- twisting Cyprian to a purpose he would have found repellent! -- as well as the simple errors of fact in this whole ACI farrago are doing little to advance understanding. I will likely take some of this up at my own blog, as I think the notion that the PB needs "permission" or "invitation" to do what she is mandated to do by Canon is pernicious, disrespectful, and un-Catholic. I also very much doubt these assertions would be so sustained if she were a man, but that's just a suspicion.

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  44. T Haller--if by 'national church' you mean, the anglican way in the US, as against Canada, of course there is a 'national church.' The present objection to 'national church' is not of this nature. It has to do with claiming there is a national church constituted by hierarchical and centralised offices. This would have been trenuously objected to by the founders of this church, and by all Episcopalians until the last 20-30 years, and is unsupported in the canons. No one in the early sixties would have said, 'our headquarters' are at 815 Second Avenue. They would not have know what a 'headquarters' meant given the diocesan and episcopal character of their anglicanism.
    Bill W.

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  45. Bill W., perhaps you are older, and can speak to the '60's. I was not an Episcopalian then; but when I was confirmed in 1969 we were certainly taught that the National Office of the Episcopal Church was at 815 Second Avenue in New York. We were also taught certainly that we were a national church, and not simply an association of dioceses.

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  46. I agree with Haller and Harris that it is important to be sure that those who agree with them get the green light, and anyone else is written off as against the party line. This is the new liberalism and the actual history of TEC is irrelevant in the face of that. Full steam ahead for the Brave New TEC.
    Bill W.

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  47. No one in the early sixties would have said, 'our headquarters' are at 815 Second Avenue.

    It's 2010 now. Please keep up.

    And, congregationalism by bishop is still just big congregationalism. Go be Baptist.

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  48. I find it strange that "these people" (the usual suspects) have fought hand an foot for decades for Primatial Primacy and now tries to deny it to The Episcopal Church of the Americas...

    As Gustaf III once said of one of his opponents; I Absolutism annoys him, it's only in others ;=)

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  49. Finally a substantive discussion at Preludium and the man (Concerned) is silenced.
    Still unclarified is whether the PB was told to stay away from SC's consecration and she conceded that she had no right. Or whether, as is being asserted here, she could always have asserted her right to do so, and for some reason inconsistent with every step she has taken in office, she did not. The rest of what ACI has written stands and has by no means been rebutted. All we have had is assertion.
    James in SC.

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  50. The "national church" ideal is not a late 20th century creation. It has its roots in Hooker's and Maurice's thinking in England. The Muhlenberg Memorial of the 1853 General Convention challenged the Episcopal Church to consider whether or not it was "competent to the work of preaching and dispensing the Gospel to all sorts and conditions of men, and so adequate to do the work of the Lord in this land and in this age?" William Reed Huntington, the "author" of the Lambeth Quadrilateral, proposed in the 1898 book "A National Church," that the Episcopal Church could play the role a non-established national church. While both the Muhlenberg Memorial and Huntington's book focused on the role that the Episcopal Church could play in the life of the nation, implicit in both is a national church structure. We may disagree about the particulars of institutional structure, but it seems clear that the idea of the Episcopal Church as a national church is at least 100 years old.

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  51. "No one in the early sixties would have said, 'our headquarters' are at 815 Second Avenue."
    Well, some folks would have...I am from Texas, went to college in New York, and interviewed for and was offered a job at 815 in 1964, and was fully aware that it was "headquarters."
    It's difficult to know where commenters like Bill W and Concerned are coming from. I don't think they have been Episcopalians very long. Just sayin'!!

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  52. James SC also Anonymous, said, "Finally a substantive discussion at Preludium and the man (Concerned) is silenced."

    Well, who knows, he or she may reappear as a real person, you know, using his or her real name. And who knows, maybe Concerned will do a bit more work on his or her arguments.

    Then again, I doubt that that will happen.

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  53. Lapinbizarre in SC11/4/10 10:31 AM

    "All we have had is assertion" is an odd defense to offer in support of "Concerned", James in SC.

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  54. For James, and Concerned and their friends: You can't make up your own facts and expect your arguments to have any validity.

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  55. It has at last occurred to me why Concerned was silenced and sent away by Mark Harris. (BTW, is it now policy to send people away if they don't identify themselves...and one disagreees with them?). We have not had any effort to prove that SC told the PB to stay away and she deferred to that (and also, to having +Winchester present), just assertions that her role as PB entitles her to be chief consecrator. So it is an assertion stand-off (because the canons are themselves not written for this season of discontent; this was the point Concerned made). No, Concerned is not welcome, I conclude, because he/she went to the effort to indicate where this standoff would lead us: more effort to enforce the new SSB agenda by intrusion and recourse to the courts. Liberals like to believe they are generous (except for the Mark Brunson type). They want SSBs and they want you to want them to and if you don't, you will have to toe the line anyway.
    James in SC.

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  56. I believe we are very generous. You may believe as you wish, but you may not force us to devolve with you. That's as generous as anyone can get. Destroy your own souls, if you must, but leave ours alone.

    This isn't about hurting you, but protecting ourselves and others. We've looked and know we can't trust you not to attack and destroy all that is not you. We are looking out for a larger group than ourselves.

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  57. I missed a teaching opportunity for our friend from SC!

    What you see in us, in me, is simply the pain for you of looking in a mirror. Stop doing it, and no one will do it to you.

    Until then, you will find war even if you go and hide alone in a hole.

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  58. James in SC, it is not a mere "battle of assertions" as you claim, but a case of what the canons say being ignored. The best Anonymous can provide in support of the thesis that the PB must ask permission is to quote Article II.3, which clearly and explicitly refers to bishops confining their actions to the diocese in which elected, not to the Presiding Bishop, who resigns diocesan office on election to be "Chief Pastor and Primate" of the whole church. In addition, Canon I.2.4.a describes the various things that the PB "shall" do -- and "shall" in canonical language brooks no opposition. Among these things is the visitation of "every Diocese of this Church" -- no mention of permission or invitation, because none is needed; and it could be argued that refusal to allow the PB to carry out this duty would be an Offense. Finally, the provision for bishops other than the PB to perform the actual consecration came about with the growth of the church and the pressure on the PB's schedule -- not as an "out clause" to permit refusal. These are the facts -- and until you can show some clear canonical language to the contrary, the thesis that a diocese can "keep the PB out" remains just that.

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  59. Mr Haller. We in SC understood that the 'national church' sought to prohibit +Winchester from attending, and for the PB to be chief consecrator. That was politely rejected. The PB sent a letter instead, which was read out.
    I think the main point of the ACI statement has been bypassed anyway. Dioceses in TEC are not comparable to dioceses elsewhere in the Anglican Communion. They form and then choose to associate. When they do this, they also have the legal capacity to end the association. That is what an association is. They have their own diocesan canons, and their giving to the 'national church' is not coerced or required but voluntary. The PB can visit only once in that role. After that, she has no authority to enter the diocese unless invited. The PB visited SC very shortly after she was made PB. That was her one visit. She did not come into SC for the consecration of +ML. My sense at the time was that +ENC was very bothered by that arrangement, but there was nothing for him to do about it.
    The entire point of Concerned's post was that canon law was not written with the present season in mind, a season in which the PB and TEC are seeking to go their own way on the matter of SSBs, over against the BCP and the 'mind of the Communion.' Hence, a standoff. You have not established the canonical situation in SC. The facts on the ground were clear. The PB did not consecrate, and the canons are such that she was in no position to ride them into authority for the occasion of +Lawrence's consecration, else she would surely have done so.
    And the rest of what ACI has written stands.
    James in SC.

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  60. The only canons that apply are TEC's canons as applied now.

    The AC has never - and you can deny it all you like but has never - had any authority over its constituent churches.

    It was nothing but a sort of meeting for bishops, with no authority to legislate. Never. No. Not.

    It's not, nor has it ever been, an international "church." We are not now, nor have we ever been, required to worry about the "mind of the communion" except as a courtesy. We have decided that the "mind of the communion" is egregiously wrong and harmful - harmful, not just un-pc, James - and are not required to bow to an understanding that comes from places in which violence, murder and torture are considered part of the church's milieu.

    The breaking of the AC will - quite frankly - be no more spiritually-devastating or significant than the dissolution of an international organization of Renaissance Faires. The only ones trying to give it significance beyond that - and I do include our episcopal leadership in this - are those who feel that they lack any authority without it.

    Instead of blaming everyone around you, James, why, oh, why, don't you ask yourselves why so few, in so many places, are buying what you're selling. Now, you can simply dismiss it, bitterly, as "The World" and it just doesn't get how great you are, or you can ask why, for some 1600 years, the religionism you tout has added to, rather than solved, the world's problems and so many of the issues it has "proclaimed" on have never been settled, even after it's been tried for centuries!

    Now, I'm telling you this with all the compassion I can muster and simply because I'm tired of you people coming screaming about what WE did to YOU. Take responsibility.

    You are your own problems' cause, just as we are.

    If you believe what you're telling us, do something useful and prove it in some substantive fashion. Okay.

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  61. Mr Brunson. No need to get worked up. An Anglican Communion that believes in anglican Christianity as a world wide missionary effort; which seeks to work toward Christian unity in the light of John 17, and so needs to be recognisable to major Christian bodies like the Roman Catholic and Orthodox bodies; and which represents something on the order of 80-90% of the present Communion -- if this is something that TEC decides is not for them, then there it is.
    This has nothing to do with authority being exercised and power grabbing. It is the form of association the bulk of anglican want. If TEC does not want that, it will leave. No one will be throwing anyone out and the freedom of Americans will not be infringed upon one iota.
    Grace and peace--James in SC.

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  62. Mark B., just forget it, it's like screaming to someone on top of Mt.Everest ...Can You Hear Me Now?!?

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  63. You're right, David.

    And they're simply to dead-souled and empty to worry about.

    Qlippoth. Nothing but shells of human beings.

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.